Remote Mandaya Community Overwhelmed with Aid from President, SAP

DAVAO ORIENTAL – Carrying heavily-loaded packs containing rice and other goods, the men, women, and children from Sitio Butay, the farthest sitio of Barangay Pichon in Caraga town, wear contagious smiles as they say words of thanks for the goods and food packs they received Saturday morning.

About 200 families received food packs containing 6 kilos of rice, 8 cans of canned goods, and 6 sachets of coffee while some 260 school children received school supplies which all came from the Office of the President through Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Bong Go.

After a long trek, residents of Sitio Butay reach Sitio Sangab to receive goods from the Office of the President.

Troops from the 67th IB of the Phillippine Army help in unpacking and distribution of supplies to the residents of Sitio Butay.

Residents said they are truly overwhelmed of the aid provided to them by the government which they described as “precious blessings”, adding that these goods are important to them since they are very hard to come by given with their community’s remote location.

THE JOURNEY

With no other means of access to their community, the residents of Sitio Butay headed to the next sitio of Sangab on foot. Sitio Sangab, nestled atop another mountain facing Sito Butay and is the center of the 13 Pichon sitios (including Sitio Butay) that comprise the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT-01), is the nearest community from Butay with an accessible road and therefore the only appropriate area for the distribution.

A family happily obliged to take a pose after the getting goods at the distribution.

Amidst the biting cold of the dawn, residents started to hike as early as 1 o’clock in the morning, enduring the grueling seven to eight hours trek through dense forest, muddy and steep, almost 90-degree downhill footpaths then crossing the perilous Caraga River aboard a makeshift cable car made of rattan only to scale, yet again, another extremely steep uphill hike to Sitio Sangab. This lengthy and dangerous trek would be endured again by the residents upon returning home with their loads of goods.

Against the odds, the Mandaya community of Sitio Butay, with their fervent spirits filled with hope, is eager to reach Sitio Sangab anticipating not only the goods waiting for them there but the good news coming from the Office of the President which is set to change their lives forever.

This assistance, said Ms. Edith Caduaya from online news agency Newsline Philippines who was tapped by the Office of the President to deliver the goods, is only the initial aid coming from the President through SAP Bong Go as they are set to conduct a medical mission by the end of the month. Given the difficulty in accessibility, volunteers and medical teams will be taken to Sitio Butay via helicopters.

The Office of the President collaborated with Newsline Philippines for the distribution of goods to the residents of Sitio Butay with help from the Provincial Government and the Philippine Army.

Aside from the food packs and school supplies from the Office of the President, Newsline Philippines also provided a printer, various educational charts and maps for Butay Integrated School.

“TULAY NG PANGULO” – A LONG-TERM INTERVENTION

Assistance came flooding into Sitio Butay after the Office of the President through SAP Bong Go took notice of a “viral’ video shared by Newsline Philippines.

Butay Integrated School Principal I Pablo Banabal, Jr. who is regarded by the people of Sitio Butay as an important figure serves as an educator here for the past eleven years.

The video posted on social media by Butay Integrated School Principal I Pablo Banabal, Jr. shows the perilous mode of transportation the people here endure on a daily basis. Aboard a “salay” – a makeshift cable car made of rattan, people here cross the dangerous Caraga River which in the past already took a number of lives who attempted to cross it.

Seemingly endless breathtaking scenery can be seen traversing the road to the remote Mandaya communities in Barangay Pichon, Caraga.

The video which made rounds on social media and caught the attention of many of the online viewers has prompted SAP Bong Go to mobilize a team to fast-track a solution to address the residents’ ordeal in terms of accessibility, said Ms. Caduaya.

Moved by the residents’ situation, the Office of the President through SAP Bong Go, she said, is eyeing to put up a “Tulay ng Pangulo” (Presidential Bridge) as well as opening a road that will connect Sitio Butay to Sitio Sangab, thus, will make people’s lives here a lot easier and will provide more economic opportunities for them.  

CADT-01 Tribal Chieftain Christine Banugan said that the bridge, if realized, will be a dream-come-true to the people of Sitio Butay and the people of other nearby sitios.

 

Meanwhile, the Provincial Government, which has a prior plan of putting up a tramline system here to connect these upland communities to the nearest road, is also delighted about the Office of the President’s planned bridge project.

Most residents in the CADT-01 area, including Sitio Butay, largely depend on abaca farming for their livelihood. With government infrastructure projects set to be implemented here, economic opportunities will be opened up to benefit residents.

Having already secured the commitment of the Department of Agriculture to fund the establishment of tramlines in far-flung communities, the province is hopeful that all upland communities will get the development they deserve through various infrastructure projects from the government.

“Learning about the wonderful news, the people here now have another reason to celebrate as they are given a hope for a better future, not only for them but most importantly for their children,” says the Provincial Government. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photos by Ken Sobrecarey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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